Three years ago, today, you happened, and then I happened and then we happened. I don't remember the precise moment I knew you were the one. Moments are left unattended, life shape-shifts. Children grow up. I read about our past and cannot believe I have so easily forgotten so much of where you came from. I have photos to remind me. And blog entries. And scraps of paper and ideas and memories and old things I can't believe you used to fit into. Old hats with snakes in them that you wore last summer, or was it the summer before?
Wait. It was last summer. Now I remember.
I don't know why it is so easy to forget. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't document every last detail of your life I would be mourning all the yesterdays: faded memories floating skyward like The Red Balloon, and you as a newborn, baby, toddler, hanging on by the string, waving at me with your fingers.
If I didn't have photographs of you in your red hat against the blue sky, I might not be able to remember how cherubic you looked that afternoon, pouting in the shade, under the sun, that thoughtful look you get when you're watching people and birds and the world.
You have become your own person this year. Or I suppose it's just that I know you differently now. The more you communicate and disagree and fight me and love me and hate me and break my heart. The more you trust me, believe me, kick me when I'm trying to tell you it's time to leave because we have to go home. How you talk to animals not with words but by singing to them. Humming songs in their ears softly, gently.
Most recently you have become attached to the moon. You search the sky with such concern. "Noon?" you say. "Where you go so fast, Noon?" And then you turn to me and point out the window and frown and I say... "The moon is sleeping, baby. Sometimes it sleeps in the afternoon. Maybe you should give sleep a try..."
But you stopped napping months ago. You only sleep when it's dark outside. And you fall asleep with your plastic lizard and your books and your music and the window drape cracked slightly so you can see the moon and I hear you say "nigh, nigh moon. night, nigh, zizard" before you fall asleep because sometimes I stand outside your door and spy on you. Sometimes I watch you sleep. Sometimes you catch me and sit up suddenly in the darkness, smile like a goose and then crash land into your pillow, pretending you are sleeping, making the fake-snoring sound with one-eye open and a cracked smile.
In the morning, you wake up calling my name, asking not for me but the moon.
"Mommy? Mommy? Where id it, Mommy? Where da noon?" you ask.
"I don't know."
Because I don't. I know nothing of moons and why sometimes they appear in the afternoon, linger in the mornings. In fact, one day you will find that I know very little. That I know nothing, really. And yet, now, when you're still small, I feel compelled to answer you. To make things up to make you happy. Give you answers. The ones you want to hear.
"The moon is going potty in the white bushes of the sky."
I don't know if this is the right approach. But I'm learning and trying and figuring it out as I go. Just as you are. With your speech and your songs and your life. And I still can't believe you exist. It's been three years and I guess I figured I would be used to you by now. But sometimes when I pick you up from school there is a moment, where I open the door and think "did I really have a child? Is he here? It wasn't just a very long dream?"
And then you appear with scrapes on your knees and a half-eaten sandwich in your lunchbox and a Ziploc bag of homemade Play-Doh and yes, there you are. I remember now.
You are growing up so fast I can't stand it. Needing haircuts often and demanding bandaids and kisses and growing more and more aware of your world.
Like when you point to my belly and say, "Hi, baby" before turning away scowling, changing your mind: "No baby! I am baby?"
"Yes. You are baby always."
Because you always will be. Even when you grow so tall I have to stand on my toes to kiss your face. You'll always be the reason for everything changing in the best way possible. You'll always be my first. My baby.
Thank you for reminding me that anything is possible. That the moon is something to befriend and the animals are things to sing to. That time is short and life is long and there are so many things to be grateful for.
Number one, being you.
(and your dad, who I also love, just in a very different way)
Happy 3rd Birthday, Archer Sagebrush, Pirate of the Snails.
Loving you like an insane person,
P.S. Here are some of my favorite shots of you from your first year. I dug these up the other day when I was weeping over your decision to grow up on me.
Misty watercolor memories, dude. Misty watercolor memories.
Cross-posted at Straight From the Bottle